How I Get Paid to Shop Plus Learn My Instacart Tips

Overfilled Shopping Carts
View of Extremely Large Batch Shopped at Costco in the New York Metro Area | Adam Palasciano

Calling all grocery store enthusiasts: Ahh, manicured aisles of fully stocked products like fresh fruits and vegetables and colorful arrays of candy ready for you to fill your cart with! If this gets your heart racing with excitement, then we have the job for you: Now you can get paid to shop for others and actually make money doing it…as a gig worker that is!

Instacart is the leading online grocery delivery service in North America. The concept of grocery delivery services has gained momentum in recent years and the effects of the pandemic have ensured that shopping online for goods and services is not going away. I mean, people get takeout delivered to their doorstep all the time, so why not their groceries too?

The app-based platform allows people to sign up as an independent contractor or “Shopper;” you shop and deliver grocery orders (or “batches”) right to a customer’s door! Today, full-time or part-time gig economy work and similar contract work opportunities like flexible grocery delivery jobs have become wildly popular. And yes, this means more money on YOUR time.

So let’s go ahead and take a look at what it’s like to be a Full-Service shopper:

Gearing Up For a Day of Shopping

Before leaving the house, it’s important to make sure you have several key items on hand as a grocery delivery worker who’s ready for anything :

  • A bottle of water
  • Snacks to eat to recharge your batteries throughout the day
  • Your Instacart Shopper payment card (This is provided when you complete the signup process)
  • Instacart shopper gear including several insulated shopping bags like the ones here
  • Appropriate clothing (no, there’s no Instacart Shopper dress code- no need for clothes shopping!). But, it’s always a good idea to check the forecast before you go out so you’re not caught in any rain or snow

How and When You Can Make The Most Money on Instacart

I recommend starting during the morning hours (between 8-10 AM), taking a break for lunch, and then working some more in the afternoon/early evening (between 3-7 PM). This will lead to the largest orders, which leads to more profit for you!

On average, if you shop several hours in the morning and several hours in the late afternoon, expect to net approximately $100-150 total for the day. Not bad for some part-time work!

Take a look at a perfect example of one December day that I shopped:

Instacart Earnings Dashboard
View of Instacart Earnings Dashboard | Adam Palasciano

As you can see from my above earnings, early morning hours plus late afternoon hours will yield you the greatest amount of cash in one day, even with just part-time hours.

Get Extra Money with Bumps and Promotions

Instacart Bumps and Promotions
View of Instacart Promotions Dashboard | Adam Palasciano

Two additional ways to add to your weekly pay are Instacart Shopper Bumps and Shopper Promotions. Here’s how they both work:

Shopper Bumps: These are additional payments from Instacart which usually start at about $5 or more. They’re issued when:

  • An order you’re shopping for contains heavy items
  • The weather is bad
  • The customer cancels the order as you arrive at the store and have already begun to shop
  • Incidents that might occur

For example, incidents can sometimes occur even when you arrive at the customer’s door. Check out one Instacart Shopper on Reddit who claims he was paid a $14.80 bump from Instacart because he got bit by a customer’s dog:

Shopper Promotions: Instacart typically runs promotions based on location and demand for shoppers at a specific time. For example, there may be an opportunity to earn an extra $100 this weekend by completing a certain number of batches by Sunday at midnight or during the holiday season when customers place more orders.

Be on the lookout for opportunities like this and you’ll be sure to get a fatter paycheck!

How To Not Waste Time At The Store

One of the most important factors in Shopper success is order optimization. What is this you may ask?; well, in my opinion, it’s how efficiently and effectively you’re able to shop and deliver the order. Here are two basic guidelines I follow to always maximize my order optimization:

  • Take a look through the items in your “batch” upon arriving at the store and before you start picking items. This will allow you to group and visualize items in the app so that you can pick related items in the same categories quickly and easily due to their proximity to each other. For example, if you need to pick one-half gallon of whole milk, 3 dozen eggs, and 1 pack of sliced cheese, it’s likely that these items are all right next to each other. Grab them all at once and then move on to other categories of food.
  • Pick the items in your batch by size and weight. Larger, heavier items should be on the bottom of your shopping cart while smaller, lighter items should be towards the top. This will help you safely and efficiently pack your cart full of groceries.

This methodology will be especially helpful when you accept LARGE orders like this one I completed at Costco. And yes, the contents of both of these carts were just one order. This is certainly one of my proudest Instacart accomplishments ever!

Overfilled Shopping Carts
View of Extremely Large Batch Shopped at Costco in the New York Metro Area | Adam Palasciano

How to Get High Ratings On Instacart

Instacart Shopper Ratings
View of Instacart’s Shopper Ratings Dashboard | Adam Palasciano

In addition to shopping at optimal times and taking advantage of bonuses & shopper bumps, the most crucial part of earning on Instacart is how good of a shopper you are. And yes, that is determined by how each customer rates you.

There are four key elements that are included in calculating your shopper rating:

  • How helpful you are via chat
  • The extra effort you put in when shopping for the customer
  • Picking quality items
  • Choosing high-quality replacements

As you can see from the above, my overall “High” shopper rating has a lot to do with the amount of money I’m able to earn one day! Ensuring that you can score highly in each of these categories means that you will be sent larger, more profitable orders as well as increase your earning potential through bigger tips!

To wrap it up, I’d like to share some of my own personal tips so you can be well on your way to becoming a top-rated Instacart shopper.

Extra Tips for Success From A Shopper To A Shopper ✅

  • ALWAYS come prepared with PPE (masks, hand sanitizer, etc.) to ensure your safety and the safety of others, both in-store and upon delivery to the customer.
  • Use the messaging feature to COMMUNICATE with your customer through the order (this usually leads to a higher rating and a better tip!). Starting with a personal greeting message once you start the batch can sometimes make the difference between no tip or a really big tip!
  • NEVER substitute an out-of-stock grocery item with a close or similar alternative unless you message the customer for approval first.
  • CHECK product quality such as fruit bruising or box dents before picking the item and putting it in your cart.
  • Be EFFICIENT about picking your items throughout the store. If two or more items are near each other, be sure to grab the closest items first before moving on to other items. This can save you a ton of time when shopping in a busy or crowded grocery store.
  • LEARN your local stores: the quicker you learn the layout and inventory of each grocery store you shop in, the faster you’ll be able to complete customers’ orders and earn more money.

Do you want to learn more about Instacart and how to make this gig work for you? Check out Get Paid to Shop: How Instacart Shoppers Surf the Gig Economy Wave